Pastoralists to get lease legal briefing

25 Oct, 2014 01:00 AM
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THE Pastoralists and Graziers Association (PGA) is ensuring everyone is in the clear when it comes to Rangeland pastoral leases.

The PGA has organised its solicitor to attend a meeting in Broome next month, following the review of the draft pastoral leases.

The draft pastoral leases were signed off by the Department of Lands earlier this month and are due to be posted to pastoralists in the coming weeks.

In order to get the best results for pastoralists, the PGA Kimberley Division, supported by the PGA, will be hosting the solicitor at the Mangrove Resort in November to address all pastoralists and best answer their questions.

PGA Kimberley Division president and Kalyeeda station pastoralist, Peter Camp is urging all pastoralists to attend.

"We will have a few other topics to discuss, but the focus will be to go through the final draft leases with them," Mr Camp said.

"It will be an opportunity to highlight any areas of concern, as there is still some concern on what option to take.

"We hope it will give people some peace of mind to have someone go through the entire lease documents with them, and go through anything that may be concerning them.

"The lawyer that has been working on the lease drafts with the PGA will go through the entire lease draft in detail.

“One would hope the pastoralists will leave with a clear message and understanding and know which option they would like to choose.”

The advice to seek legal advice has been supported in a meeting with the Lands Minister Terry Redman and PGA last week.

During the meeting, Mr Redman and the PGA discussed the next stage of the pastoral lease program.

"I met with the PGA as part of the consultation process around the pastoral lease program," Mr Redman said.

"The meeting was positive and we are on track to send pastoralists their lease renewal options by next month.

"All pastoralists should seek legal and financial advice before deciding which lease to sign."

Following the PGA legal team reviewing the draft lease options, PGA vice president Ellen Rowe said the PGA believes that option one remains the renewal option with the least amount of risk.

Ms Rowe advised that all pastoralists seek their own independent legal advice.

"Based on our legal advice option two may pose a risk with future acts under Native Title," Ms Rowe said.

"And it may be subject to a challenge from Aboriginal Land Councils.

"The PGA has responded with a written submission to the Minister on the revised options and outlined our concerns."

Ms Rowe said the PGA would continue to advise pastoralists to ensure that any compliance issues are dealt with, and to obtain independent legal advice before signing either of the lease renewal instruments when they are made available.

While pastoralists look over their options, the PGA has said there are concerns that some leaseholders are still not compliant.

Mr Redman agreed and said this issue was raised at their last meeting.

"I encourage anyone with remaining compliance issues to do everything they can to become compliant by June 30, 2015," Mr Redman said.

It is an increasing concern for the PGA, because if pastoralists do not pay their rates, and comply they will lose their leases and the land could possibly go back to Crown land.

With an estimated 150-180 leases having compliance issues ranging from unpaid rent or vermin rates to overstocking, Ms Rowe is urging pastoralists to sort out any outstanding compliance issues, as soon as possible.

"The importance is that all leases expire on June 30, 2015 and if you are not compliant you will not have a lease," Ms Rowe said.

"Unlike a rental, there is no month-to-month until a new lease is signed.

"What this means for pastoralists is that they will not be able to legally sell their stock because their Property Identification Certificate will expire."

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